HUD Offers $200M of COVID-19 Relief to Tribes

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced Friday that it’s offering $200 million in block grants to help Tribes and their housing authorities respond to the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) funds will aid Tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) across the country as they address affordable housing needs to protect Tribal members’ health and safety. 

Secretary Carson underscored that the HUD funds come on the heels of the president signing the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law. The CARES Act includes an $8 billion set aside for American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes (of roughly $10 billion total in emergency aid for Indian Country). The $8 billion fund will pay for “emergency relief to Tribal governments and offset costs incurred by Indian Tribes due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said in a statement in March. 

Secretary Ben Carson noted that President Donald Trump “wanted to ensure that American Indian Tribes received the assistance they needed to combat the coronavirus,” adding, “HUD remains committed to providing Tribes with the tools they need during this national emergency to continue to create safe, affordable housing opportunities for their communities.”

Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing R. Hunter Kurtz emphasized that the $200 million funding “helps HUD’s mission to continue to assist some of our most vulnerable customers.”

Indian Housing Block Grants primarily benefit low-income American Indian families. The amount of each grant is based on a formula that considers local needs and housing units under management by the Tribe or TDHE. Eligible activities for the funds include housing development, operation and maintenance, modernization of existing housing, housing services to eligible families and individuals, housing management services, crime prevention and safety activities, and model activities that provide creative approaches to solving affordable housing problems in Indian Country.

The HUD funding will benefit Tribes in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Arizona is slated to receive the greatest amount of HUD funding at $37.18 million for 20 Tribes.

In addition to the $200 million in HUD funding, on April 2, HUD announced that it began allocating $3.064 billion to help America’s low-income families and cutting the red tape so grantees can quickly help their communities.